Blanket 'whipped off' Earle Haven patient

The owner of an aged care home that's the subject of a parliamentary inquiry won't appear this week.
The owner of an aged care home that's the subject of a parliamentary inquiry won't appear this week.

When a patient's blanket was whipped off him at his Gold Coast aged care facility he realised something was very wrong, a parliamentary inquiry has been told.

It was July 11 and the Earle Haven aged care facility was about to descend into scenes of abject chaos.

Sixty-nine high-care residents were left high and dry when the Nerang centre ceased trading over a pay dispute between its owner, People Care, and HelpStreet, which managed the residential care facilities.

Staff called triple-0, asking for help, sparking a full-scale disaster response.

More than a hundred paramedics and Queensland Health staff came in to deal with the distressed residents, many suffering from dementia.

The chaotic scenes of elderly people being loaded into ambulances as supplies were stripped out of the home made national headlines, and are the subject of a state parliamentary inquiry on Wednesday.

Gold Coast Health executive Karlene Willcocks told the committee one of the residents she spoke to that day told her he realised the home was in trouble when a blanket was whipped off him before the chaotic scenes.

She was there as part of the "mass casualty action plan" that responded to the confusing closure of the facility, as fridges, mops, buckets and even kitchen equipment were wheeled out.

Ms Willcocks told the inquiry into aged care, palliative care and voluntary assisted dying that 69 residents had needed care, but the computers with their medical details had been taken away.

Even items like disposable rubber gloves had been taken.

Ms Willcocks said medical professionals had to work out how to care for patients using hard copies of medical records that in many cases had either no identifying photos or dated images of patients.

The computers which contained the facility's care plans were taken from the home about 24 hours before it went into administration.

Queensland Ambulance Service paramedic Cary Strong said he saw rooms being stripped of everything except bed frames.

He also saw multiple verbal confrontations between people, including one involving an elderly man whose urine bag was dragging along the floor.

Mr Strong said despite the chaos, Earle Haven boss Arthur Miller, who was also there, told emergency services they could leave.

He told them they didn't need to be there because an administrator had been appointed to take over, Mr Strong said.

Mr Strong rejected that advice because he could see there was no appropriate plan in place in relation to the needs of the residents, in regard to food or hygiene.

He later wrote in his debriefing notes that there appeared to be no control of the site, the inquiry heard.

Mr Strong said he had never in his 33 years of experience seen an emergency response like the one at Earle Haven, outside of a natural disaster zone.

Mr Miller was summonsed to appear before the state parliamentary hearing on Wednesday but was unable to appear because he was sick.

Committee chair Aaron Harper said Mr Miller would instead appear next week.

The hearing, which is investigating the quality and safety of aged care at Earle Haven, continues.

Australian Associated Press